Today is Christmas day. Outside everything is covered by the
immaculate snow. The temperature seems tepid like often when
it is snowing. There is no noise. Everything is quiet and it
is good to be inside, close to the fireplace, where the wood
is singing and sighing. The flames are dancing in the living
room, which was a barn before. Like the five-year-old little
boy that I am, I cannot detach my eyes from this spectacle invariably
The entire house is decorated. The day before my father cut a
spruce in the garden. It is a big one, twenty feet tall. Its
peak touches the ceiling. Before we go to sleep my father tells
us a story of Christmas. That is the story of Michka, the little
bear. Michka lives in a wealthy house with a spoiled little girl
who is very naughty with him. She is angry with him and she takes
him by one leg and throws him hard against the wall. He is fed
up. He does not want to stay with her anymore and decides to
leave. He walks on the snow whistling softly, happy to be free,
to have fled his tyrant. Walking, he meets Santa Claus on his
sleigh. He says: "What are you doing, alone in the dark?
Jump beside me and help me to distribute the gifts for the good
children!" All the night Michka searches in the big bag
and puts the toys in the shoes in front of the fireplaces. When
they arrive at the last house, a wood hut in fact, Michka searches
and searches again into the big bag but does not find anything.
There is nothing inside anymore. In the little hut there is a
poor boy, sick and alone. So even though he is going to lose
his new freedom and he is very sad to leave his new friend, Michka
sits down in the used shoes and becomes again the teddy bear
he was. As the story ends, we fall asleep, the heart tight.
At midnight, my father will come to wake us up and we will get
our gifts. We are in our beds and my first cousin is sleeping
in my room. His father is alcoholic and has left his mother.
She is not with us tonight and I know that my cousin, who is
like my brother, is full of sorrow. We fall asleep tired and
impatient. We are dreaming about the toys we asked Santa Claus
It is midnight and my father has called for us. Under the spruce
covered with candles, there are a lot of beautiful packages.
We open one after the other our gifts. My first cousin is expecting
a pair of roller-skate. That is the one thing he is interested
in. When he opens his last package there are no rollers in it.
He falls in tears, totally disappointed, his heart full of a
deep feeling of injustice. He is so desperate. He wanted so much
this present, that I am feeling desperate too. I am trying to
comfort him but there is nothing to do. I have never seen someone
so sorrowful at this point in my life.
Now, fourteen years later, each Christmas I feel a kind of fear
when it is the moment to open the gifts. I am afraid of not having
listened enough to the desires of my children. I hope I will
never see this sadness on their faces. For me, and I think now
it will be forever, I feel melancholic and I am unable to really
appreciate this moment.